by Lang Whitaker

OK, so we’re getting down to crunch time here, with the NBA season just around the corner. About a month ago, I started working on the SLAM NBA Preview, which runs in our NBA Preview issue every year. I’ve written it the last few seasons, and the hard part isn’t ranking the teams — even Charley Rosen could do that — the tough part is coming up with some kind of theme or hook for the preview, so it’s not just a bunch of boring text.

This year, I was still trying to come up with an angle when I got a call: Gilbert Arenas wanted to talk. He was in New York, and we were supposed to talk about the SLAM shoe we designed for him. But then I had an idea: Why not co-write the NBA preview with Gil? So I got our friends at adidas to block out 45 minutes of Gilbert’s time (thanks, Kristen) and I came prepared, with my rankings already sketched out. Gil and I sat down and went division by division, and finally agreed on how it should look.

I was going to try to put the previews online this week, but then on Friday I was given a copy of the video of Gilbert and I chopping it up. So, I’ve edited it down and we’re going to drop a division per day. Please ignore my hat hair and focus on the rankings, because this is exactly how it’s all gonna play out. At least, that’s what Gilbert and I think.

(And as I just watched one of the videos, I discovered that my words sound kind of garbled. That’s because I was attempting to speak Gilbertology. Gil sounds fine, though. And if I listen with headphones I can understand all of it.)

Anyway, here’s the video…

And here’s how we ended up ranking the Atlantic Division…
1. Washington
2. Miami — Gil loves them adding Smush Parker
3. Orlando
4. Atlanta — The part on the tape where I’m pumping my fist is when Gil talks about how much he loves the Hawks…in three years.
5. Charlotte — Morrison wasn’t even hurt when we did these rankings, but that obviously doesn’t help anything.